Indoor Football League Commissioner Todd Tryon had just gotten off of a conference call during the middle of weeks 1 and 2 of the 2020 season.
He was typing up the notes recapping the meeting during the NBA’s Jazz – Thunder game when the news started to break.
Rudy Gobert had tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, the NBA cancelled its season, and the rumors of the NHL doing the same came soon after – all in a matter of minutes.
It was a curve ball that the first-year commissioner had to adjust to.
“Our staff at that point was thinking, ‘We are going to play our games this weekend and re-convene on Monday,” Tryon said. “It’s crazy how the perspective was changing by the hour. That’s probably the most remarkable thing of everything going on.”
Tryon kept paying attention to the cancellations and held another conference call on Thursday.
It was then that the league decided it would postpone the rest of its games for the season, minus the pair of games scheduled for that weekend in California.
“Let’s get the games in that the arenas are allowing you to play this weekend, at that time,” Tryon said. “At that point we decided that we were going to postpone the season until further notice and kind of let this play out.”
So, the plan was to have Iowa and Oakland face off as well as Cedar Rapids and San Diego on the ensuing Saturday night.
As the weekend progressed, however, both games were cancelled and the IFL joined the other major leagues in America in putting a halt to the action.
“It’s kind of funny,” Tryon said. “As you look back at making these decisions, the most difficult ones to make (at the time) turned out to seem like pretty easy decisions. I was always following the path of what the NBA and NHL were doing. If they were going to play, we were going to play.”
That leaves IFL fans in the same boat as fans of the NBA and NHL, amongst nearly every sports league in the United States.
Tryon shined some light on what the current plans are for the indoor league.
Where does the IFL go from here?
The league, at the current moment, plans on playing its championship game during the August 22nd weekend at the latest.
It would allow the league – if they started up play on the weekend of May 15 – to still complete 17 weeks of a regular season with each team playing 14 games.
Unfortunately, the chances of having more than a four-team playoff go out the window, because of the condensing of the schedule, but Tryon identified the 22nd as the weekend they plan on playing the title game.
“That buys us about five more weeks (from now),” Tryon said. “Basically, I’ve reached out to all of the arenas and I’ve got the dates for July and August. (Then, we) can kind of build a schedule backwards. We’re at the mercy of the arenas. As soon as they deem it safe to play, we’re going to play.”
With each weekend past May 15 that this goes, it will trim the schedule even more.
If it goes through May 28, teams will play 12 games instead of 14 due to the lost time. So on and so forth.
If it goes far enough, Tryon said they will have no choice but to look at cancelling the entire season.
“I’m not speaking for the owners, but I’ve talked to enough of them that I feel like I can say this,” Tryon said. “If every team can’t get five home games and five away games in, then we’ve really go to look hard at potentially cancelling the season.”
Tryon did say, of course, that the league will resume when the arenas allow them to.
However, unlike the two planned games from week 2 that didn’t happen, the IFL is not likely to allow teams to compete without fans.
“It would be really tough to do that. Our industry is different than the NBA and the NHL,” Tryon said. “We rely on the season ticket holders, the sponsors… It would knock out a large revenue stream for us. Not only would we honor potential refunds, but we’d also have the expenses of playing the game, so that’d be a double-whammy there.”
Tryon said that he wasn’t saying, ‘No,’ but that it would be really tough for these teams to play without fans.
The only thing left to do is sit back, wait for this to pass, and learn some lessons along the way.
That’s a big part of what Tryon is focusing on now, and he summed it up with this:
“Any time you go through scenarios like this, there’s always lessons to learn,” Tryon said. “I’ve got three kids and I’m always trying to use moments to teach them lessons. The biggest thing in times like this is that you’ve got to take care of yourself. There’s never been a time where health and wellness was of more importance. This is a time to take care of yourself, to exercise, start eating right, respect and appreciating your elders, and doing all the small things we’re supposed to do anyway. My kids, at night, we call the grandparents every night. Tomorrow is never promised. I think that’s another thing that we’ve got to take advantage of the day we’re given, be excited about it, and help people.”
We’ll keep you updated as best as we can, as long as you take care of yourself.
Hopefully, we’ll be able to watch 14 games for each and every IFL team. Until then, we’ll wait.